Taiwan is a place that should be explored not just with public transportation (as convenient as it is). If you only take public transportation everywhere you go, you are missing out on a huge part of Taiwan. You could take taxis everywhere to see these sights, like a rich Chinese person, or you can take the cheaper option and rent a vehicle. Many of the scenic and rural sights of Taiwan can’t be experienced except by hiring your own vehicle.
Renting cars or scooters in Taiwan:
Taiwan is the scooter capitol of the world. Driving a scooter is dangerous, but scooters are fun. You can stop pretty much anywhere on the side of the road easily and take photos and enjoy the scenery. They are also pretty easy to learn how to operate; if you can already drive a car and/or ride a bike, picking up riding a moped shouldn’t be that hard. There’s not much better of way to experience Taiwan than cruising down the streets like everyone else with the wind blowing in your face. However, if you are afraid that scooters are dangerous, I would suggest renting a car.
Buying a car as a foreigner in Taiwan can be a confusing and stressful experience. If you do not live near a train station, chances are that you have thought about at least buying a car for long trips. Taiwan is a place that should be explored not just with public transportation, but by car or scooter. If you only take public transportation everywhere you go, you are missing out on a huge part of Taiwan. To make you buying experience smoother, we have created this guide to let you know what to expect and answer any questions.
Many people have written about getting a driver’s license before. Here is the one we have found most helpful:http://www.tealit.com/article_categories.php?section=transportation&article=drivers_license
I don’t want to beat a dead horse by repeating what other bloggers have said; I just want to give my own opinion and advice on getting a driver’s license in Taiwan. You should read the above blog first to get a background on what the test is (as well as through google), because I am just going to supplement what this guy has said.
I know plenty of other foreigners who live in Taiwan with no license and no vehicle. That's cool for you bro, but frankly, you are missing out on so much that Taiwan has to offer. If you only take public transportation you are limiting yourself to places you can go, people you can see, food you can eat, and marvels to enjoy. My advice, get a license. If you are staying in Taiwan for the short term, just use an international driving permit.
For the long term: if you ever want to stop borrowing your girlfriend’s family scooter, you will want to buy your own. You will need a license.
As for renting cars and scooters, see my blog post about it (coming soon).
So I've convinced you get a real license. How do you do this? Technically you should go take a driver’s test, show your passport, your original country’s driver’s license, pay some fees and that's that. However if you are not feeling confident about passing, or you don’t have a license in you home country, go to a driver’s education class (this is what most Taiwanese people do). I don’t know if they offer classes in English though. If you are good at driving, let me teach you the ways of passing the drivers exam without paying for driver’s education.
Passing the Taiwan Road Test without Driver’s Education Classes:
Written test: This might be the hardest part. Get your hands on the English questions: http://www.thb.gov.tw/sites/ch/modules/download/download_list?node=30892007-f4d7-45f0-8a7e-863e7822fe5c&c=e94977a2-5a11-45ce-b530-5ca55d709ed3
You need to download four parts: 1. Rules T/F, 2. Signs T/F 3. Rules Multiple-Choice 4. Signs Multiple-Choice
Read them. If you really want a good score, print them out and study. Signs are easy. Rules multiple choice is going to be the hardest. You can get a perfect score if you memorize the penalties for breaking the law. You will need at least an 80 to pass.
Also, take the simulator test to see how you are doing: https://www.mvdis.gov.tw/m3-simulator-drv/. This simulator is exactly the same as the real written test.
Scooter Driving Test
Scooter: This test is pretty easy. But that is if you are steady and know how to balance on a scooter. This will probably take most of your practice time. You can’t put your foot on the ground. As far as the test itself, remember to look over your shoulder every time you turn as well as make turn signals. You should pass if you do these things.
I'm not spending any more time on scooters because it is so simple.
Car Driving Test
If you can pass the driving test in America, you can pass it in Taiwan. But you should be aware of a few differences:
Below is a map of the entire test (sorry no English):
Here is the whole test:
1. Inspect the vehicle. This means checking tire pressure by putting your finger above the triangle on the outside of the tire. If the instructor is nice, they will walk you through this part. Check every tire. Also, check the mileage, gas level, oil level, and temperature. Also be sure to put on your seatbelt, adjust mirrors, adjust your seat, and take off the parking brake before you start the car.
2. Back into a parking space: This means back in from a 90 degree angle, or back in from around a corner. To practice for this, borrow a friend’s car and just practice backing around corners in a parking lot; it's really not that hard.
3. Parallel parking: To practice for this, borrow a friend’s car and just practice. For me personally what I kept messing up was turning too late. Make sure when you go back diagonally you turn a good couple feet before your back tire hits the curb.
4. S Curve: This is by far hardest. They don’t test this in America, and you can't really practice for it. But you can watch this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR-QgC0MWtg This video is pure gold. There is a memorable method for passing this. Watch this a bunch of times and at least visualize what’s going on. I will take the time to translate it into English if someone wants me to, so tell me in the comments if you want it or not.
I messed up the S curve. It still takes some real life practice to get it down. If you want, you can get some sidewalk chalk and draw it in a parking lot. But even if you mess up on the s curve you can pass the test, like me.
Personally I think the S curve had very little real life application and should be removed from the car test.
5. Go around a round-about
6. Stop on a hill
7. Stop for a train
8. Stop for pedestrians.
9. Road test: this is a new test that as of now is not required. I was the first person foreign or Taiwanese to pass it. It's really easy, just drive down the road outside of the DMV and do two U turns. Remember to turn on signals check blind spots and follow the speed limit. I don't know if this part of the test will ever see the light of day because of insurance policy problems. But I think it's great because the inside test is robotic. So many people pass and are too afraid to actually drive on the road.
As a side note, my friend from Utah exchanging a driver’s license based on principles of equity:https://tpcmv.thb.gov.tw/English/ServicesEng/LicenseEng/ManagementEng/ManagementEng02.htm
This is the end of our rant. I hope it was helpful. Do not hesitate to ask any specific questions about this topic in the comments. We will answer as soon as we can. If you want a quicker response, ask us on Twitter.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.